After months of waiting for a regency to pop up in the Love Inspired Historical line, I found The Matchmaker's Match, by Jessica Nelson, which was released this month. It's about Lord Ashwhite, a marquis who must marry within three months time in order to keep his estate, according to his father's will. Helping him is Lady Amelia Baxley, who is secretly running a matchmaking business on the side so that she can maintain her own household and live independently from her brother and his wife, the latter whom Amelia finds difficult to get along with.
Ashwhite, a former rake, and a new believer, wants Amelia to find him a believing spouse, but as he spends time with her, he discovers that his interest lingers on Lady Amelia. However, her independent streak reminds him too much of his mother, with whom he has an estranged relationship. Amelia finds herself attracted to the Marquis, but has been disappointed in love before. She keeps telling herself that she will do better on her own without love, trying to secure enough income so that she can buy a small home of her own. On top of that, her own practicality doesn't leave much room for God. That eliminates her from the Marquis' list of prospects...or will God do something to bring these two together?
I really liked Ashwhite; he's a charmer. He and Amelia first meet when she steps into an argument that Ashwhite is having with a former paramour, but somehow he finagles Amelia into a dance, leaving both being intrigued with the other. Amelia's life seems to have been quite defined by her Great Disappointment in love, so she has thrown herself into painting and writing letters to the House of Lords over political issues As I read the story, two questions were raised over Amelia's character. How would she come to faith in this story? Would she get over her broken heart and open herself to another love?
As for Ashwhite, would he find someone to marry in time in order to save his estate? Will he be able to reconcile with his mother for all the past hurts that she has caused him?
I felt a bit of tension when I read that he was struggling to forgive his mother while Amelia was still searching for the Lord. I wanted to call him a poor witness, but the truth is that, in reality, forgiveness is often a very difficult thing to do, whether one is a new or seasoned believer. Besides dealing with forgiving his mother, Ashwhite also has to deal with the fallout of his previous behaviour as a rake. Will people be able to forgive him of his past? Or has he irreparably damaged his reputation so that no respectable woman will give him a chance?
There was a couple of confusing things that appeared in my copy of The Matchmaker's Match. Chapter Four gives details about the will that has created problems for Ashwhite. His lawyer tells him that he will lose his lands, except for property that will come to him through his mother, and that he will be able to keep the title "as Earl of Hartsacre" (p. 42.) I suspect that this is a misprint and that it actually should have read, "Marquis of Ashwhite." Anyways, it makes me wonder if the Marquis was actually an earl in earlier drafts, but that is just speculation.
As with many regencies, it is a puzzle to figure out what the actual given names are of the nobility, because they are often referred to by their titles, or by the name associated with the title's seat. It was tough digging for the Marquis' name, but I think that it is Spencer Broyhill. The name, Spencer, was often used in this book, but it seemed it could have done as either a first or last name. Anyhow, I found, "Broyhill," which is mentioned only once, in Chapter 2. This actually led me to speculate about another puzzle in this book. How long was the Marquis' father the holder of his title? We are told that the Marquis and Lady's Amelia's brother are old friends, and that she had previously known the Marquis as Mr. Broyhill before he ascended to the title. That would make sense if his father had assumed the title relatively recently, and with his death, passed it along to Spencer. However, it seems as if Lord Ashwhite had been raised and trained to know what to do with the marquisate, and there is reference to Ashwhite (property) being the site of the family home, so I suspect that his father had held the title for quite a long time, and that Spencer would more likely have been referred to as Lord Broyhill, or Lord "X" (whatever title he would have been referred to before assuming the title of marquis).
Now that I've spent two long paragraphs on my musings over those minor points in the book, I would like to say that I did like this book. I think that Ms. Nelson did a good job in showing how the characters are attracted to each other, and also tied the minor plot lines (some of which I did not mention) quite well into the main plot. I hope that she writes more regencies. I certainly plan on reading them if she does.